Page 960 - Week 03 - Thursday, 23 March 2017

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Offensive language

Statement by Speaker

MADAM SPEAKER: Before I call the Clerk, I will refer back to Mr Wall. Mr Wall raised a point of order under standing order 57. He correctly referred to the House of Representatives practice where a member is not allowed to use unparliamentary words through the device of putting them in somebody else’s mouth or in the course of a quotation. We are referring to a quote in a speech by Mr Rattenbury. It was the only quote used, and it was a quote by someone who has lived the experience of the program that he was referring to. It may also be of interest that the last time the word “crap” was withdrawn was in 2009. It might have been the previous Leader of the Opposition, Mr Seselja, who was asked to withdraw that back in 2009.

I would remind people of sensitivity of language. I did not hear it; I was clearly not offended by that language at the time. Given its context and given that it was a quote by somebody who has lived experience, I do not find it offensive. I will let it stand. But it is a good reminder, every now and again, for people to be aware and sensitive of language used.

Mr Wall: Just on your ruling, Madam Speaker?


Mr Wall: Even though it was in a quote and contextualised, I think that among people of the ACT and parliaments more broadly there is an expectation that a certain tenor of language be maintained.


Mr Wall: If certain words are going to be allowed in some contexts but not in others it is very vague guidance for members to stand by going forward.

MADAM SPEAKER: On that exact point, it is worth noting that a determination as to whether words used in the house are offensive or disorderly rests with the chair. The chair’s judgment depends on the nature of the word and the context in which it is used. I have made my comments. I call the Clerk.

Planning, Building and Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2017

Mr Gentleman, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Urban Renewal) (10.38): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

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